Juvenile Incarceration

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Juvenile incarceration refers to the confinement of minors injuvenile justice system facilities for wrong doings. Though it wasintroduced to help minimize cases of delinquency recorded, it hassparked many concerns for several years regarding its effectiveness.Some argue that it is costly, thus, creates a significant burden onthe taxpayers, while others claim that it is not useful in handlingdelinquent acts of the youth. Studies conducted by variousresearchers also reveal that most of the adolescents who haveundergone juvenile incarceration are more likely to re-offend and berearrested. Therefore, many alternatives have been proposed to reducethe rate of incarceration, and most of them have been considered veryefficient and less costly. This paper compares and contrasts sixarticles on juvenile incarceration and evaluates the results.

Comparison of the Previous Articles on

These articles show that juvenile incarceration is not effective inminimizing cases of reoffending. The article “Juvenile Justiceat a Crossroads: Science, Evidence, and Twenty-First Century Reform,”by Laura S. Abrams, puts forward that there is rising concern thatjuvenile incarceration is ineffective and overused. It reports thatcases of violence, substandard care, and abuse are common among thecorrectional facilities that house the minors. Furthermore, juvenileincarceration is ineffective since most of the adolescents who havebeen incarcerated are like to be rearrested, convicted, enter anadult penal system, or face stints of incarceration a few years afterthey are released (Abrams, 2013). The article “The Impact ofChild Protective Service History on Reoffending in a New MexicoJuvenile Justice Population,” by Victoria F. Dirmyer andKatherine Ortega Courtney, puts forward that juvenile incarcerationis ineffective and costly. Furthermore, juvenile incarceration doesnot provide youths with motivation and skills necessary to bewell-adjusted adults. It adds that adolescents who have beenincarcerated are more likely to commit offenses again (Dirmyer &ampCourtney, 2015).

According to the article “Juvenile or Adult Court: Research onFuture Offending, by Shari Miller-Johnson and JoelRosch, exposing incarcerated juvenile offenders to inmates in adultprisons increases their chances of committing crimes after they arereleased. Besides, it is likely to lengthen the period they will takepart in criminal activities. Adolescents confined in smaller,decentralized units linked to the juvenile justice system have lowerrates of recidivism than those limited in larger, centralized unitsassociated with adult correctional facilities (Johnson &amp Rosch,2012). The article, “Psychosocial Interventions for TraumatizedYouth in the Juvenile Justice System: Research, Evidence Base, andClinical/Legal Challenges, by Julian D. Ford andPatricia K. Kerig, states the need for juvenile detention reforms tolower the rate of youth incarceration. It states that many teens whohave been confined in a correctional facility are likely to bearrested for reoffending. It considers this form of punishmentineffective because it does not help to minimize cases of delinquency[ CITATION For15 l 1033 ].

The article “Modifying Dialectical Behavior Therapy forIncarcerated Female Youth: A Pilot Study, by BreannaBanks, Tarah Kuhn, and Jennifer Urbano Blackford, states thatjuvenile incarceration is an ineffective and costly means ofpunishing young lawbreakers since those confined in juvenile systemcorrectional facilities have higher rates of recidivism [ CITATION Ban15 l 1033 ].The article “Assessing Probation Officers’ Knowledge ofOffenders with Intellectual Disabilities: A Pilot Study,by Valerie E. D. Russell and Paige N. Dunlap, states that juvenileincarceration does not prevent adolescents with intellectualdisabilities (ID) from reoffending. It makes them more vulnerable torecidivism since they hardly understand the consequences of theiractions. That means that juveniles with ID who have undergoneincarceration are more likely to be rearrested for recidivism [ CITATION Rus15 l 1033 ].

Contrast of the Previous Articles on

Some articles state that various harmful conditions develop or worsendue to juvenile incarceration. Each article reports a differentcondition. “Modifying Dialectical Behavior Therapy forIncarcerated Female Youth: A Pilot Study” reports that uniquepsychological, biological, social, and cultural stressors coupledwith adverse general life experiences have increased thevulnerability of incarcerated females. They often have cold relationswith family and peers, a negative self-image, and unhealthyinterpersonal relationships. Many believe that correction facilitiesare symmetrically racist, sexist, and worsen the problems ofincarcerated females (Banks, Kuhn, &amp Blackford, 2015). “AssessingProbation Officers’ Knowledge of Offenders with IntellectualDisabilities: A Pilot Study” states that the prevalence ofincarcerated juveniles in the United States with intellectualdisabilities (ID) ranges from 4 percent to 10 percent. Incarceratedyouths with ID normally have difficulties processing information andhardly understand the legal terminologies as well as procedurestherefore, some of them give up their rights. Most of them are morevulnerable to getting wrongful convictions since they hardlyunderstand the consequences of their actions.

Modifying Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Incarcerated FemaleYouth: A Pilot Study” states that the prevalence of emotionaland mental disturbance is a constant problem for adolescents confinedin correctional facilities. Nearly, 65 percent to 70 percent of teensconfined in correctional facilities meet conditions for at least onepsychological health diagnosis. Besides, the number of femaleoffenders experiencing emotional problems is higher than the numberof their male counterparts with such problems. “PsychosocialInterventions for Traumatized Youth in the Juvenile Justice System:Research, Evidence Base, and Clinical/Legal Challenges” statesthat juvenile confinement causes traumatic stress, which makesbeliefs about the relationships, futures, the world, and identity ofthe confined juveniles maladaptive.

Some articles propose different alternatives to address problemsarising from juvenile confinement. “Juvenile Justice at aCrossroads: Science, Evidence, and Twenty-First Century Reform”put forward that bipartisan fiscal coalitions, policy organizations,advocacy groups, and conservatives have supported the appeal toreduce the use of juvenile incarceration. They argue that servingminors with community-based punishments is more effective thanincarceration since they make more financial sense as juvenileincarceration costs approximately six times what adult imprisonmentcosts. The article talks about three programs that do not involveincarceration and are effective in preventing crime among thejuveniles with a high risk of committing offenses: MultidimensionalTreatment Foster, Multi-systemic Therapy, and Functional FamilyTherapy. The author asserts that they deliver results (Abrams, 2013).“The Impact of Child Protective Service History on Reoffendingin a New Mexico Juvenile Justice Population” states that it isimperative to come up with new alternatives to juvenileincarceration, which has proven to be costly (Dirmyer &amp Courtney,2015). “Modifying Dialectical Behavior Therapy for IncarceratedFemale Youth: A Pilot Study” states that more work needs to bedone to prevent juveniles from being involved in the system of minorsdespite the fact that the rate of youth incarceration in the UnitedStates has decreased within the last fifteen years. It suggests thatDialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is useful in reducing theemotional and behavioral problems that incarcerated females commonlyface. It can be modified and carried out efficiently without causingsignificant occupational or financial burdens (Banks, Kuhn, &ampBlackford, 2015).

Psychosocial Interventions for Traumatized Youth in theJuvenile Justice System: Research, Evidence Base, and Clinical/LegalChallenges” states there is a need for juvenile detentionreforms to lower the rate of youth incarceration. One of the mostpractical ways of handling traumatic stress involves providingCognitive Processing Therapy (CTP) at the earliest point in thetrajectory of a teen’s involvement with the justice system. CTP isimplemented as a group or one-to-one treatment, which teaches skillsof a cognitive restructuring designed to help clients to test andmodify beliefs about their relationships, futures, the world, andidentity. These beliefs may have become maladaptive due to traumaticstress. This article asserts that CTP is more useful in treatingtraumatic stress among incarcerated boys than control conditions inwhich they receive standard juvenile justice facility services (Ford&amp Kerig, 2015)

While some articles suggest that confining adolescents incorrectional facilities makes them develop certain psychologicaldisorders that increase their chances of reoffending, “JuvenileJustice at a Crossroads: Science, Evidence, and Twenty-First CenturyReform” does not report any disease associated withincarceration. Similarly, “The Impact of Child ProtectiveService History on Reoffending in a New Mexico Juvenile JusticePopulation” does not state any condition related to juvenileincarceration. It only puts forward that incarcerated females have arelatively higher likelihood of becoming pregnant and enduringhigh-risk pregnancies – 9 percent of girls who have been incarceratedhave higher chances of becoming pregnant as compared to 6 percent offemales who have not faced incarceration.

Evaluating the Results

Indeed, placing juvenile offenders in residential or correctionalfacilities for a long time does not achieve the set goals ofminimizing cases of delinquency since it does not lower the chancesof reoffending. Furthermore, institutional stays increase thelikelihood of reoffending since exposing young offenders to moredangerous offenders makes them develop more risky behaviorsassociated with crime. Incarceration also increases chances of youthsdropping out of schools. It is also costly and increases the juvenilejustice system’s rate of spending, thus, places a heavy burden onthe taxpayers. In this regard, it is imperative to reduce the rate ofincarceration by adopting more efficient and less costly alternativesthat correct the criminal behaviors of juvenile offenders.


The articles analyzed in this paper show that the United States hasthe highest number of incarcerated adolescents in the world andmajority of the ones released usually re-offend. Confining youthfuloffenders in correctional facilities for a given period does notprevent them from reoffending after they are released. Therefore, itis not an effective way of addressing recidivism. Moreover, runningjuvenile justice system residential or correctional facilities issomewhat costly. The articles also outline some of the more effectiveand less expensive alternatives that have been recommended by severalgroups and individuals to replace juvenile incarceration. Some of theauthors of these articles put emphasis on the need to handlepsychological conditions associated with incarceration to lower casesof recidivism.


Abrams, L. S. (2013). Juvenile Justice at a Crossroads: Science, Evidence, and Twenty-First Century Reform. Chicago Journals, 725-752.

Banks, B., Kuhn, T., &amp Blackford, J. U. (2015). Modifying Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Incarcerated Female Youth: A Pilot Study. OJJDP Journal ofJuvenile Justice, 1-14.

Dirmyer, V. F., &amp Courtney, K. O. (2015). The Impact of Child Protective Service History on Reoffending in a New Mexico Juvenile Justice Population. OJJDP Journal ofJuvenile Justice, 18-27.

Ford, J. D., &amp Kerig, P. K. (2015). Psychosocial Interventions for Traumatized Youth in the Juvenile Justice System: Research, Evidence Base, and Clinical/Legal Challenges. OJJDP Journal ofJuvenile Justice, 31-45.

Johnson, S. M., &amp Rosch, J. (2012). Juvenile or Adult Court: Research on Future Offending. 21-23.

Russell, V. E., &amp Dunlap, P. N. (2015). Assessing Probation Officers’ Knowledge of Offenders with Intellectual Disabilities: A Pilot Study. OJJDP Journal ofJuvenile Justice, 80-89.